Search for missing MH370 to be refined to 'two corridors': Malaysian PM Najib

MALAYSIA is refining its search for the missing Malaysian Airlines jetliner to focus on two areas where the plane might have lost communication with satellites.

The government is looking at two possible corridors, the first area described by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak as a northern corridor. This stretches from the border of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to northern Thailand.

He also made mention of a southern corridor that stretches from Indonesia to the southern Indian Ocean.

"The investigation team is working to further refine the information," said Mr Najib in a media briefing on Saturday.

He added that search operations in the South China Sea will be called off. "We are ending our operations in the South China Sea and reassessing the redeployment of our assets. We are working with the relevant countries to request all information relevant to the search, including radar data," he said.

Given that the new search corridors will involve many countries, Mr Najib said relevant foreign embassies have been invited to a briefing on Saturday by the Malaysian Foreign Ministry and technical experts. 

He added that he had also instructed the Malaysian Foreign Ministry to give a full briefing to foreign governments which had passengers on the plane. 

In closing, Mr Najib said: "Clearly, the search for MH370 has entered a new phase. Over the last seven days, we have followed every lead and looked into every possibility. For the families and friends of those involved, we hope this new information brings us one step closer to finding the plane."

Flight MH370, with 239 people on board, went missing near the South China Sea early on March 8. It lost radar contact with air traffic control at around 1.20am, about 50 minutes after taking off from Kuala Lumpur International Airport for Beijing.

No distress signal was sent and weather was clear, but the plane never arrived at its destination at the scheduled time of 6.30am.

On March 9, Malaysian Airlines said it "feared the worst".

Radar indicates the flight may have turned back from its scheduled route to Beijing before disappearing. Malaysian military says it had spotted an unidentified blip at 2.15am last Saturday, 322km north-west of Penang.

In his statement on Saturday, Mr Najib confirmed "that the aircraft showed in the primary radar data was MH370".

To date, 43 ships and 58 aircraft from 14 countries have become involved in the search for the missing plane, but no trace of any debris has been found.

The search, which enters its second week today, had expanded westward from the east coast of the Malaysian peninsula to the mainland Indian coastline and further east into the South China Sea.

Addressing media reports claiming that the plane has been hijacked, Mr Najib said: "We are still investigating for possibilities as to what caused MH370 to deviate from its original flight path."